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Published: Sunday, 10/22/2006

Johnson and Eastwood defend titles

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

FREMONT - Eastwood's Corey Johnson knew what to expect when he stepped to the starting line for the Division II district cross country meet yesterday at Terra Community College.

The defending district champion expected a difficult time trying to defend his title considering the competition and the muddy terrain.

But Johnson underestimated himself and had little trouble repeating. The senior won with a time of 17:10.76 while leading the Eagles to a second straight team championship.

"I had a feeling a couple of guys would be right with me. But at about the mile mark it didn't seem that way, so I just kept pushing it," said Johnson, who crossed the finish line with no one else in sight.

The Eagles placed five in the top 15 to score 37 points. Ian Zimmerman finished second with a time of 17:59.21 and Taylor Pasquale ran seventh at 18:37.52 to give the Eagles three finishers in the top 10. Leo Adams ((18:44.90) and John Moser (18:46.39) ran 12th and 15th, respectively.

"We ran solid," Eastwood coach Richard Morgan said. "I was pleased with the effort, but we still have to improve if we want to get out [of the regional] next week."

Zimmerman turned the final corner of the race shortly after Johnson to improve on last season's 12th-place finish.

"It was a slow race at first and I wasn't sure what to expect," Zimmerman said. "But once I got going I felt better.

"My goal was to come in in the top five, but my biggest goal was to finish runner-up to [Johnson]."

Clyde, led by Craig Gerber (18:03.97, third) and Jeff Whitt (18:19.16, fifth), placed second with 51 points, followed by Port Clinton (88), Bellevue (122), and Genoa (125) to round out the top five boys teams.

Genoa's D.J. Coffman (18:19.16, fourth), Rossford's Shawn Bryant (18:21.72, sixth), Oak Harbor's Lucas Bechtel (18:38.68, eighth), and Port Clinton's Kevin Donnelly (18:43.92, ninth) and Tim McLean (18:44.20, 10th) completed the top 10.

The top four teams and any individuals placing in the top 16 spots qualify for the regional meet Saturday in Tiffin.

Otsego's Kelly Weisenborn claimed first place in the girls race in 20:44.88. Weisenborn, who placed third at district a year ago, outlasted Genoa's Simone Eli (21:00.18).

Weisenborn overtook Eli, the defending runner-up, with about a mile remaining and never relinquished the lead.

"Honestly, I didn't think I'd win the race," Weisenborn said. "I'd never beaten Simone before in any race."

Eli was considered the favorite to win going into the meet.

"I really wanted to win it because the girl who beat me last year graduated, so I'm pretty disappointed with my time and my place," Eli said. "I guess I'll have to get her [Weisenborn] at regionals."

Bellevue claimed the girls team title after placing three runners in the top seven. Wendy Sumser (21:44.31, fifth), Kara Knight (21:55.71, sixth), and Krista Gibson (21:57.33, seventh) led the way with 47 points. Oak Harbor placed second with 82 points, followed by Eastwood (105), Clyde (118), and Otsego (120).

Clyde's Ashley Alejandro (21:30.40, third), Eastwood's Kelsey Lauck (21:43.06, fourth), Rossford's Kacy Kunst (21:57.96, eighth), Otsego's Kayla Fackler (21:58.59, ninth), and Oak Harbor's Ashley Madison (22:02.02) complete the top 10.

Defending girls district champion Maumee had no chance at a repeat. The Panthers have run the entire season with only four runners - one less than required to compete as a complete team. Maumee coach Angie Gugger worked with two freshmen and two sophomores all season.

Nevertheless, Maumee's Tess Waggoner, a sophomore, qualified for the regional meet after placing 14th with a career-best time of 22:06.72.

"Today I said to them what I've said for every race, `We're going out and trying to run our best race,' " Gugger said.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com or 419-724-6302.



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